Bremerton is a city in Kitsap County, Washington, United States. The population was 39,520 at the 2015 State Estimate, making it the largest city on the Kitsap Peninsula. Bremerton is home to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and the Bremerton Annex of Naval Base Kitsap. Bremerton is connected to Downtown Seattle by a 60-minute ferry route, which carries both vehicles and walk-on passengers along a 17-mile sailing route to Seattle.
Bremerton, the largest city in Kitsap County, is located directly west of Seattle across the Puget Sound on the Kitsap Peninsula. It is bounded on the southeast and east by Sinclair Inlet and the strait of Port Orchard respectively. The city is divided by the Port Washington Narrows, a strait spanned by two bridges that connects, the eastern and western sides of the city. The part of the city northeast of the narrows is referred to as East Bremerton. The city's southern border is contiguous with Mason County and includes Bremerton National Airport.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 32.29 square miles (83.63 km2), of which, 28.41 square miles (73.58 km2) is land and 3.88 square miles (10.05 km2) is water.
Bremerton is divided among three state legislative districts in Kitsap County. The to the north, in the center and to the south.
Before redistricting in 2012, the line separating the first and sixth Congressional districts ran through East Bremerton. As a result of the 2012 redistricting, all of Bremerton now lies within the sixth Congressional district. The district is represented by Derek Kilmer, who was first elected to that position in 2012. Prior to Kilmer, Norm Dicks served as sixth district Representative from 1977 to 2013.
The mayor is Patty Lent, who defeated councilman Will Maupin in 2009. She was sworn in as soon as the election was certified to fill the rest of the term left by previous mayor Cary Bozeman, who left to become executive director of the economic development agency Port of Bremerton. Lent had been a Kitsap County commissioner, and ran as a Republican. Incorporated as a first-class city, Bremerton has been governed by a nonpartisan strong mayor and nine-member city council since 1985. Each member is elected from one of nine wards who in turn elect one member. The current form of government was established by a 1983 charter that eliminated a decades-old city commission composed of a mayor, public works commissioner and finance commissioner.
Each member of the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners represents a portion of the city of Bremerton. This arrangement was an attempt to balance Bremerton's commercial influence with the remainder of the county, though most of its sales tax base has since relocated to unincorporated areas. The revenue shortfall has been compensated by increased revenues collected from traffic infractions, making Bremerton a notorious "speed trap."
Bremerton politics can vary in intensity, with some city council positions regularly unopposed and others having as many as four candidates in the 2005 primary election. Redevelopment projects have been a major source of debate, including the 2007 construction of a federally funded tunnel that would route ferry traffic under the downtown core as well as a planned waterfront boardwalk extension. As with most cities in the region, Bremerton precincts have historically been more favorable for Democratic candidates in state and federal elections, contrasting with more conservative-leaning voters in rural areas of the county.
Bremerton is within the historical territory of the Suquamish Tribe. The land was made available for non-Native settlement by the Treaty of Point Elliott of 1855. Bremerton was planned by German immigrant and Seattle entrepreneur William Bremer in 1891. In the year 1891, Navy Lt. A.B. Wyckoff purchased approximately 190 acres of waterfront land located on Sinclair Inlet. This land was owned by the Bremer family. Three years earlier, a U.S. Navy commission determined that Point Turner, between the protected waters of the Sinclair and Dyes inlets, would be the best site in the Pacific Northwest on which to establish a shipyard. Recognizing the large number of workers such a facility would employ, Bremer and his business partner and brother-in-law, Henry Hensel, purchased the undeveloped land near Point Turner at the inflated price of $200 per acre. In April 1891, Bremer arranged for the sale of 190 acres (0.77 km2) to the Navy at $50 per acre. This land became part of the initial footprint of the Puget Sound Navy Yard.
Bremerton was incorporated on October 15, 1901 with Alvyn Croxton serving as the city's first mayor. Progress in the new city soon faced a major crisis, as Navy Secretary Charles Darling moved all repair work to the Mare Island Navy Yard in California in November 1902. Darling cited reports from commanders that the Bremerton waterfront was rife with prostitution, opium houses and frequent strongarmed robberies of sailors. Politics were probably also at play, as local newspapers reported that the city's incorporation left the shipyard essentially landlocked without room to expand. A dispute ensued between Mayor Croxton, who wanted to shutter all saloons in Bremerton, and three members of the city council, who attempted to block his efforts. Croxton eventually won out and the council voted to revoke all liquor licenses in June 1904. With the ban, Darling reestablished the navy yard as a port of call. Saloons had begun to return to business within two years, however.
In 1908, the city library and Union High School were established to serve the educational needs of the 2,993 residents recorded in the 1910 U.S. Census. During World War I, submarine construction and the addition of a third drydock caused the shipyard's workforce to balloon to over 4,000 employees. Growth due to the war effort and the 1918 annexation of the city of Manette, east of Bremerton on the Port Washington Narrows, can be seen in the 1920 census, which reported a population of 8,918. Bremerton absorbed Charleston, its neighboring city to the south in 1927. Population reached 10,170 in 1930.
Manette (Now also known as part of East Bremerton) was linked to Bremerton by the Manette Bridge, a 1,573-foot (479 m) bridge constructed in June 1930. Prior to this time, the trip could only be made by ferry or a long trip around Dyes Inlet through Chico, Silverdale, and Tracyton on mostly unimproved roads. This wooden bridge was replaced with a concrete and steel structure in October 1949. It was replaced by the new Manette Bridge in 2011. At the shipyard, the 250-foot (76 m) tall Hammerhead Crane No. 28 was completed in April 1933. One of the nation's largest, it is capable of lifting 250 tons and continues to dominate the Bremerton skyline.
At the peak of World War II, the Bremerton area was home to an estimated 80,000 residents due to the heavy workload of shipbuilding, repair and maintenance required for the Pacific war effort. Most of the relocation was temporary, though, and only 27,678 citizens were left in the city by 1950. During the 1940s, presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman both visited Bremerton. Roosevelt made a campaign stop at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard on August 12, 1944, giving a national radio address in front of a backdrop of civilian workers. During the course of his 35-minute speech, it is believed the president suffered an angina attack, experiencing severe chest and shoulder pain. An electrocardiogram was immediately administered once he left the podium but it showed nothing abnormal. President Truman took a two-day tour of Washington state in 1948, speaking from the balcony of the Elks Club on the morning of June 10. Local legend has it that a man in the large Pacific Avenue crowd yelled the infamous "Give 'em hell, Harry" line for the first time. This is a matter of dispute, however, as local newspapers quoted the man as having shouted "Lay it on, Harry." Despite this, there is a bronze plaque attached to the corner of the building declaring that exact spot to be the place where the phrase "Give 'em hell, Harry" was first uttered. With the return of World War II GIs to the homefront, the need for post-secondary education became evident to officials of the Bremerton School District. Olympic Junior College (now Olympic College), a two-year institution, opened its doors to 575 students in the Fall of 1946. Initially, it operated in the former Lincoln School building, gradually moving operations to World War II–surplus quonset buildings at its current 16th & Chester site. About 100 students received associate degrees at the first commencement exercises held June 10, 1948. President Truman was in attendance and received the college's first honorary degree. Operation of the college transferred from the school district to the State of Washington in 1967.
On the whole, the 1950s and 1960s were a period of stability for the city. A second high school opened in 1956 and two comprehensive high schools operated in the city until 1978. Growth in East Bremerton necessitated the construction of another span across the Port Washington Narrows in 1958. The $5.3 million, four-lane Warren Avenue Bridge allowed for increased traffic on State Highway 21-B (now State Route 303).
The battleship USS Missouri, site of the Japanese surrender treaty signing that ended World War II, was assigned to the Pacific Reserve Fleet at PSNS in 1955. For 30 years, she served as the city's primary tourist attraction. Hundreds of thousands of visitors walked the "surrender deck," before the ship was recommissioned in 1985. She was Decommissioned: 31 March 1992 (final). Her name was struck off the registrar 12 January 1995. In 1998 "Mighty Mo" was donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association and became a museum ship at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Population growth was flat with 26,681 enumerated in the 1960 census, leading Bremerton leaders to annex the shipyard the following year in an effort to include stationed sailors in those figures. While the Vietnam War spawned protests and sit-ins on the Olympic College campus, the city was relatively free of civil disorder during the 1960s.
With the 1973 selection of the Bangor Ammunition Depot 12 miles (19 km) northwest of Bremerton as the Pacific home of the new Trident submarine fleet, residential and commercial development began to move closer to Silverdale and farther from the Bremerton downtown core. Numerous failed proposals were made at redevelopment beginning in the early 1970s, including discussions of a waterfront hotel and the erection of a large canopy over the central business district. Meanwhile, most of the city's office and retail space remained in the hands of Edward Bremer, son of William Bremer and the sole remaining heir to his wealth. (In order to receive their inheritance, William Bremer's three children were honor-bound to never marry.) Bremer began to neglect his properties, never increasing decades-old lease rates and failing to make necessary maintenance upgrades. In 1978, the Bremerton City Council passed an ordinance declaring the entire downtown a "blighted area."
In 1985, Safeco-subsidiary Winmar Corporation developed the Kitsap Mall in Silverdale. With lower taxes and minimal planning regulations in the unincorporated town, Silverdale achieved virtually unfettered growth. Sears, J.C. Penney, Montgomery Ward, Nordstrom Place Two, Woolworth and Rite Aid all closed their downtown Bremerton stores in the 1980s and '90s. Upon the death of Edward Bremer in 1987, the Bremer properties were placed under the complete control of a trust held by Olympic College. Not being in the real-estate business, the college did not actively market its holdings and the downtown was composed almost entirely of very large empty storefronts. As of January 2010, many buildings remain vacant.
In recent years Bremerton has seen its share of community setbacks. Like many other West Coast cities, Bremerton school teachers were pitted against their district's administration for nearly a month in September 1994 during a contentious strike. Four elderly residents were killed in an enormous three-alarm fire that destroyed the 165-unit Kona Village apartment complex in November 1997. Damages were estimated at $7.5 million. A replacement senior apartment building has since been built.
Despite a hard-fought battle throughout the Mid-1990s by local politicians to have the decommissioned and mothballed USS Missouri, already in the Bremerton Navy Yard, stay in Bremerton as a museum ship and tourist attraction, Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton, awarded the ship to the Pearl Harbor Naval Base, HI in 1998. It now sits near the USS Arizona memorial to demonstrate where U.S. involvement in World War II started on December 7, 1941, and where it ended by the signing of the Peace Treaty by the Japanese on board the USS Missouri, on September 2, 1945.
Beginning with the building of a Waterfront Boardwalk and Marina in 1992, Bremerton had begun the process of revitalizing its downtown community. That same year, the Bremerton Historic Ships Association opened the destroyer USS Turner Joy (DD-951) to public tours at the end of the boardwalk; the ship was built in the Puget Sound area in 1958, commissioned in 1959 and had played a back-up role in the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Incident that further escalated U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War with the Congressional passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, allowing President Lyndon B. Johnson to send fighting troops in addition to the "advisors" already on the ground in Vietnam.
In 2000, Bremerton saw the opening of the waterfront multimodal bus/ferry terminal and a hotel/conference center complex in 2004. The high-rise Norm Dicks Government Center also opened that same year, housing City Hall and other government offices. The Waterfront Fountain Park and Naval History Museum adjacent to the Bremerton Bus/Ferry Terminal opened in 2007, and a newly expanded marina with more boat capacity was completed in 2008. Plans to build an extension to the current boardwalk from the USS Turner Joy to Evergreen Park is in the litigation stage. Even though the boardwalk extension project is fully funded, opposition to the extension by the Suquamish Tribe concerning the impact to treaty fishing rights threatens the project. Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott a 132-room hotel opened in March 2010 on the site of the old City Hall building made obsolete by the new Norm Dicks Government Building.
Condominiums were built on the waterfront to lure more people to live and shop in the downtown area as part of the revitalization effort. However, construction delays and economic downturn forced the builder of the publicly funded Harborside Condominium complex, the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority, to fall $40.5 million in debt. That debt later was taken on by Kitsap County, which hired a marketing firm to sell the remaining units at a lower-than-anticipated price. The privately built 400 condominium complex north of the Harborside complex opened shortly before the Harborside complex and also didn’t sell as well as projected. The remaining empty condos were eventually sold at auction for a lower cost.
Harborside Fountain Park opened up May 5, 2007, the 2.5 acres (10,000 m2) is one of the Puget Sound region's most impressive public spaces. Located on the waterfront, just steps away from the Kitsap Conference Center, the park features five large copper-ringed fountains, wading pools, and lush landscaping. The park will also be home to the Harborside Heritage Naval Museum.
A tunnel underneath downtown, traversing from the ferry terminal to Highway 304 (Burwell Street), has been newly opened that allows for a smoother egress for vehicles exiting the car ferry and make for a more pedestrian friendly downtown. A new fountain park above the tunnel blends water and art, along with the bow of a ship and the conning tower of a submarine as a tribute to the workers at the Bremerton Naval Shipyard over the years. The stations along the walk include pictures of the shipyard, workers, and shipbuilding and repair statistics.
The popular Blackberry Festival is held annually during Labor Day weekend on the waterfront boardwalk to celebrate everything Blackberry. Local residents, shopkeepers and growers bring their Blackberry ice creams, pastries, pies, jams, jellies, candies, and even ciders and wines to this annual event. Free entertainment includes music by local musicians and entertainers performing throughout the three-day festival, the Berry Fun Run and the Blackberry Criterium Bike Race. Bremerton National Airport sponsors the annual Blackberry Festival Fly-In with shuttle service provided by Kitsap Transit to the festival. As the Festival's background story goes, the downtown waterfront of Bremerton where the festival takes place, was a massive overgrowth of wild blackberry bushes that were removed to build the waterfront Fountain Park, Boardwalk, Marina and Bus/Ferry Terminal.
Bremerton has a Köppen Csb climate, with warm dry summers and wet semi-mild winters. Average annual precipitation is 56.37 in (1,432 mm), with 0 to 15 in (38 cm) snowfall per winter season. The city falls in U.S.D.A. climate zone 8.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
Based on per capita income, one of the more reliable measures of affluence, Bremerton ranks 341st of 522 areas in the state of Washington to be ranked. Because of the military base Bremerton's demographics are extremely diverse.
As of the census of 2010, there were 37,729 people, 14,932 households, and 7,853 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,328.0 inhabitants per square mile (512.7/km2). There were 17,273 housing units at an average density of 608.0 per square mile (234.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 74.0% White, 6.7% African American, 2.0% Native American, 5.5% Asian, 1.3% Pacific Islander, 2.8% from other races, and 7.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.6% of the population.
There were 14,932 households of which 27.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.4% were married couples living together, 12.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 47.4% were non-families. 37.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.93.
The median age in the city was 31.9 years. 19.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 17.1% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 29% were from 25 to 44; 22.5% were from 45 to 64; and 11.9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 53.1% male and 46.9% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 37,259 people, 15,096 households, and 8,468 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,644.2 people per square mile (634.9/km²). There were 16,631 housing units at an average density of 733.9 per square mile (283.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 74.97% White, 7.50% African American, 1.95% Native American, 5.53% Asian, 0.93% Pacific Islander, 2.57% from other races, and 6.56% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.59% of the population.
There were 15,096 households out of which 30.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.4% were married couples living together, 13.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.9% were non-families. 35.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.98.
In the city the population was spread out with 24.5% under the age of 18, 15.5% from 18 to 24, 30.3% from 25 to 44, 17.2% from 45 to 64, and 12.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 103.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 103.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $30,950, and the median income for a family was $36,358. Males had a median income of $28,320 versus $23,523 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,724. About 16.0% of families and 19.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.7% of those under age 18 and 11.4% of those age 65 or over.
Sports and recreation
Bremerton is home to the Kitsap BlueJackets baseball team of the summer collegiate West Coast League. It is also the home of the Kitsap Pumas soccer team in the USL Premier Development League (PDL). Its basketball team is the Kitsap Admirals in the American Basketball Association (ABA) .
- Nathan Adrian, swimmer and Olympic gold medalist who currently holds the American record in the 50 and 100-yard freestyle
- Buddy Allin, professional golfer who won five PGA Tour events in the 1970s
- Dan Attoe, painter and sculptor
- Bob Ballinger, Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives, born in Bremerton in 1974
- Jill Banner, film actress, possibly best recalled for her role as Virginia, the "spider baby" in the 1964 cult horror-comedy film Spider Baby
- George Bayer, professional golfer who played on the PGA Tour and Senior PGA Tour, winning 4 PGA Tour and 1 Senior PGA Tour events
- Willie Bloomquist, utility player for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners, was born in Bremerton and grew up in nearby Port Orchard
- Chuck Broyles, head football coach at Pittsburg State University
- Frank Chopp, Washington State Speaker of the House, grew up in Bremerton
- Francis Cogswell, U.S. Navy captain and Navy Cross recipient
- Adelaide Hawley Cumming, vaudeville performer, radio host, and living trademark for General Mills
- Avram Davidson, author and literary critic, spent the end of his life in Bremerton
- Norm Dicks, 18-term U.S. Congressman, was born and raised in Bremerton as the son of a Puget Sound Naval Shipyard worker; served as a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee and also sat on the Select Committee on Homeland Security
- Howard Duff, actor, radio voice of Sam Spade, star of NBC television series Felony Squad and featured in many films including Kramer vs. Kramer and No Way Out, was born in Charleston, now part of Bremerton.
- Mike Enzi, United States Senator from Wyoming, was born in Bremerton
- Brent David Fraser, actor
- Bill Gates Sr, father of the Microsoft multi-billionaire, was born in Bremerton and began his law career with the local firm of Merrill Wallace; the elder Gates' father operated a furniture store and ice cream parlor in downtown Bremerton
- Geologic, the lead rapper for the Blue Scholars who has also performed as a spoken word poet, is from Bremerton; has shared stages with such artists as De La Soul, Slick Rick, Kanye West, Immortal Technique, Masta Ace, Mos Def and Little Brother.
- Elizabeth George, Christian author, resides in Bremerton
- Ben Gibbard, best known for his work in The Postal Service, Death Cab for Cutie, and All-Time Quarterback
- Margaret Grubb, first wife of pulp fiction author and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard
- Mike Herrera, bass guitarist vocalist for the band MxPx, born and still resides in Bremerton
- Steven Holl, architect, born in Bremerton
- L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology founder, attended Union High School and wrote his early works while living in Bremerton during the late 1930s and early 1940s
- Rondin Johnson, former MLB second baseman for the Kansas City Royals
- Quincy Jones, jazz legend, moved to Bremerton at age 10; as a teenager, he first met up with Ray Charles after traveling to clubs in Seattle
- Douglas Kahn, historian and theorist of media and the arts
- Clayton Kauzlaric, artist and game designer known for his work on the games Total Annihilation and Voodoo Vince.
- Dana Kirk and Tara Kirk attended Bremerton High School and Stanford University; competed in the 2004 Olympic games, the first sisters to be members of a U.S. Olympic swim team
- Buddy Knox, singer and songwriter best known for his 1957 rockabilly hit song, "Party Doll"
- Mike Levenseller, football player
- Jock Mahoney, actor and stuntman, died in Bremerton
- Gary Miranda, poet
- Terry Mosher, longtime sportswriter for the Kitsap Sun
- Pat O'Day (né Paul Berg), longtime KJR radio personality and general manager, is a 1953 graduate of Bremerton High School; began career holding teen dances at Bremerton's Sheridan Park Recreation Center and the Spanish Castle in Seattle; later promoted acts like Merilee Rush, Heart, The Wailers and Jimi Hendrix
- Benji Olson, former offensive guard for the Tennessee Titans, was born in Bremerton and attended nearby South Kitsap High School
- Joe Pichler, actor in films such as Varsity Blues and The Fan
- Dorothy Provine, actress who starred in 1960s films like It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and Who's Minding the Mint?
- Yuri Ruley, drummer for the band MxPx, resides in Bremerton
- Kevin Sargent, former NFL player for the Cincinnati Bengals
- Alex Smith, current quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, led University of Utah to victory in 2005 Fiesta Bowl, first player chosen in 2005 NFL Draft, was born in Bremerton
- John Stroeder, former professional basketball player
- Champ Summers, former professional baseball player
- Ted Tappe, former professional baseball player
- Marvin Williams, signed by NBA's Atlanta Hawks in 2005; as a senior at Bremerton High, averaged 28.7 points, 15.5 rebounds and earned McDonald’s and Parade All-America honors; attended University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and won 2005 NCAA Championship
- Marc Wilson, former quarterback who played for the NFL's Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders and the New England Patriots
- Tom Wisniewski, guitarist for the band MxPx, resides in Bremerton
- Heather Young, best known for playing Betty Hamilton on the television series Land of the Giants
Bremerton has the following sister cities, according to :